The distinction between mourning and reveling has always been blurred, in some societies, so it was not entirely surprising that by 7 last night the memorial feast (somewhat like Greek funeral games of the Homeric era) for Victor began to really, my God, take off.
In 1977, said the sober well-designed folded leaflet given to all "an East African giraffe named Victor, distinguished by age, experience and virility, lost his footing and spread-eagled himself while attempting to be of service to Arabesque, one of his three female giraffe friends at the Maxwell Park Zoo, 70 miles south of London.
"The plight of the fallen lover attracted sympathy and understanding of kindred souls throughout the world."
The Victor Invictus Society was established here the day following this sad news by three "sincerely sorry" men, Donal Mclaughlin, J. C. Brown and Jerry Anderson, who are graphcis-artist-writer types. McLaughlin designed the official seal of the United Nations.
"The founding luncheon was at Tinker's which closed its door for ever that week, though we were perfectly orderly," said a Founder.
"At first, said a Founder, "the idea was that any new members would simply pay for our lunches. As we originally planned it, no man could join unless he was 50, and the age for women members was 40. This has subsequently been reduced to 10."
Lifetime membership costs $5, and at last night's memorial meeting there were oysters, cheese with kirsch from France, lots to drink. It is possible the society is already in the hole.
Many of the 1975 or so guests came in costume. Bob Lautman, photographer, came as a great white hunter and trusted his camera "shows clearly I shoot the soul, not the body of the animal." His wife, Kay, came as a giraffe. maria Schoolman arrived as a zoo keeper with cleaning pan and revolting black mustache and was crushed when everybody recognized her.
"I am a sheep, of course," said a woman who looked a bit tarred and feathered. A man in a gorilla suit was from the Eastern Shore, dominating the oyster department since he (almost alone among guests) was born to shuck. People tried to be nice to him.
If the society (a membership of 250 now) gains in stature, McLaughlin said they would like to do something for the zoo where Victor lived. Especially for the golden marmosets, endangered now in their home off the Brazilian coast.
Some suspected the marmosets should not hold their breath.
"It's been a long time since I've seen a loft full of crazy artists in costume," said a fellow.
"You may not know this," said a woman sculptor, "but this is in a venerable line of extremely drunk parties."
The press discreetly left at 7 passing a gentleman leading a lady arranged as a cat and a couple of giraffes whose horns were made of rubber dog bones, and the piano was being "tuned" but oldtimers said the floor of 2315 M St. was sturdy as a rock and had borne more.